The 2012 Formula1 season was filled with champions and records. One being the McLaren-Mercedes team setting the fastest pit stop in the series history (2.31s). Pirelli might have introduced some motivation to break this record with its newest F1 tires for the 2013 season.
The goal is to see more pit stops and more overtaking over the course of each race. No track is created equal. Various lengths, elevation changes and of course weather all play factors into what driving strategies claim victory.
This year, Pirelli has developed a tire with in cooperation with the new rules set by the FIA. The softer structural compounds, and flexible reinforced shoulders should make tire ware significantly quicker than last year. The objective is to improve performance and increase thermal degradation to ensure at least two pit stops per race occur.
The sidewalls also receive an upgrade with brighter colors and one new color - orange in place of the silver for hard compound tires. The defining characteristic of the 2013 Pirelli Formula One tires is softer compounds all round, which will allow them to reach peak operating temperature faster and deliver lap times that are around 0.5 seconds faster than last year.
Evolution of Pirelli's tire technology has allowed the new hard tire - the PZero Orange - to be roughly equivalent to last year's medium compound. The tire sidewalls are softer this year, but the shoulders are stronger. The effect of this is faster thermal degradation while the tire's peak performance window is extended. Traction is also improved, which translates into faster lap times, especially on the exit of corners and in combined traction areas, from braking to acceleration and vice versa.
The performance gap between the different compounds is now in excess of 0.5 seconds per lap, as opposed to last year when the difference was often smaller: particularly in the latter half of the season. Faster thermal degradation and a bigger performance gap between the compounds will encourage overtaking throughout each race.
"The 2013 season continues the philosophy adopted by Pirelli last year in evolving the original 2011 range of Formula One tires," commented Pirelli's motorsport director Paul Hembery. "The goal is to continuously set new challenges for the drivers and to ensure that all the teams start the new season on a level playing field when it comes to the tires. Through accumulating more information with each grand prix last year, the teams eventually fully understood the tires, after a spectacular start with seven winners from the first seven races. The result at the end of the year was races with less competition and sometimes only one pit stop. This phenomenon was also observed in 2011, disappointing many fans and prompting some of the teams to ask us to continue developing our tires further this year, in order to provide a fresh challenge with something different. Our 2013 range of tires mixes up the cards once more to help overtaking and ensure two to three pit stops per race."
The Formula One tires are designed at the Pirelli laboratories in Milan and produced at a dedicated facility in Izmit, Turkey. Having passed quality control and other checks, the tires are then sent to Pirelli's logistics hub in Didcot (United Kingdom) from which they are shipped out to all the different circuits. Once more, each Formula One car will have 11 sets of tires available for the weekend, made up of six sets of the harder and five sets of the softer compound. In total Pirelli takes about 1800 tires to each race.
Tires are allocated to each team at random, as per FIA regulations, through the use of bar codes. FIA officials allocate the tires to the teams, with no involvement from Pirelli in this process. Each tire has a barcode embedded into its sidewall even before the vulcanization process, which effectively acts as the tire's 'passport'.
The on-track Pirelli team will once more be made up of around 55 people this year, including fitters, logistics personnel, hospitality staff, and engineers. As has always been the case, each team will have its own dedicated Pirelli engineer.